[Story] Elsewhere in Loch Caillte... Vol. I

[Torsten's Lab]

Mathius' finds that everything is as Diedre had said; The levers on the walls activate the lighting within the work hall, bright as the noon sun from each globe, making it easy to see what you are working on. Neatly organized about the work room are the typical tools of the trade, for three craftsman. All appear to be of the highest quality indeed.

A stock of iron, steel, bronze, charcoal, coal,and a few things Mathius' can't readily identify are piled against one wall, neatly organized.

Upon opening the inner door, He steps into the gallery of Torsten, Master Armourer. There are 4 complete suits of armor, one of which is exactly like the one the gaurds at the library was kitted out with; A hauberk of scale, with a high, peaked helm, with all the attendant pieces. Mathius notes that the armor appears to be made for a woman, given the narrow shoulder in comparison to the chest.

The next is copy of the Lorica Segementata, the heavy armor of the Roman Legions. The heavy Iron breastplate in masterfully worked, and the craftsmanship of the whole set is something Mathius, at the moment, can only dream of aspiring to. Included is the large, Roman style shield and the weapons of the Legionnaire, his pilum and gladius.

The third is a typical suit of chainmail, save that the links are much smaller and finer than most suits he's seen, made by mundane master craftsmen. Only a single layer of links so small that almost looks like cloth, and nearly as supple. No weapons are on display, as the suit itself is a work of art.

The fourth is the strangest of all; It stands the height of a large man, and is mainly pieces of solid steel over more of the masterful small link chain mail. Even the hands are nearly fully covered in steel. He notes the joints, and how they appear to be made so that movement is not hindered in the least. Yet, despite the innovation, it is not nearly so finished as the others, being rather plain in finish. On display with the suit is a large war maul, a crude but effective weapon.

Displayed around the room are various weapons as well; There are some particularly wicked looking lance points, a battle axe so ornate it was propably useless, and various and sundry smaller blades. Central to the weapons display were 2 zweihander - the massive 2 handed swords of the Holy Roman Empire. The 2 on display are easily the finest examples of them Mathius has ever seen.

And then he notes the door in the rear of the gallery.

Corvus Meets Conner

Overhead, moving down to sweep past a tree and ending on the coopers in their workshop.

EXT. Lough Cailte Covenant

Corvus, in the shape of his crow heartbeast, sits in a tree watching the covenfolk go about their business. He seems to listen, soaking up the gossip.

INT. Coopers' workshop

Conner hefts an oak barrel frame, girded with iron, over a flaming pit. As the frame settles into place a great rush of fire sears the inside of the barrel. He leaves it there for a moment, his gloved hands toughened against the heat. When it's done, he wheels it away, stacking it with the other fresh frames. Other workers hammer scalding iron strips into place while others take the seared and sealed barrels away to for more treatment.

Corvus, now in his human form, steps into the workshop.

Hey, are you Conner?

Conner ignores the interruption and reaches for another barrel.

I said, are you Conner?

Away. I'm busy and I've no time or mind to talk to strangers.

We'd be strangers no more if you'd only talk with me.

Conner shoots him a glance, but then carries on with his work, wincing as another pillar of flame sears another barrel.

Alright, I'll talk to your back as soon as your front. I hear you're the man to talk to about money and fighting. Some say you've never lost a fight.

They say that do they?

Aye, they do say that. O'course, I don' believe 'em.

That right?

Conner keeps working away at the barrels.

Oh, yer a big man a'right, but ya look slow, past yer prime, as it were.

Conner stops and looks over his shoulder at his new tormentor with a wry smile.

Well, that'd be us both over the same hill then.

The other workers have now stopped and are watching the pair nervously.

So, if we're both so old and past fightin' at our best, you'd no get hurt so much when I beat ya. Eh?

I'll no fight ya.

Ah, ya will. Ya jus' trying to hold it back. I can see it.

Corvus narrows his eyes as his smile widens. He was getting to Conner and he could sense it. It wouldn't be long...

It's jus' a matter of how much money it teks.

Corvus plucks a coin from the pouch he carries in his hand and flicks it at Conner's naked back.

Hey, tha's enough. Leave him be to get on wi' his work. We need no trouble here.

The first workman makes to stand between Corvus and Conner but is held back by his workmate.

Leave it, don' get in their way. Fetch Angus or Maga Diedre. Go.

Conner tenses as each coin thrown by Corvus bounces off his skin.

Come on. Come on. See, I'm already givin' ya ma money, win or lose. Come on.

Conner turns and rips off his leather apron. He takes two paces towards Corvus and throws a terrifying straight right. Corvus takes the shot full in the face and is knocked from his feet, sprawling out into the courtyard. The lithe figure rolls and is about to stand when Conner's boot catches him beneath the ribs. Winded, Corvus scrabbles back.

Conner, no.

Conner's workmates try to jump in and pull him back. Conner shrugs them off and wisely they let go.

Come on then, ya bas'ard. You wanted this. Get up and tek it.

Corvus, rises to one knee, regaining his breath, his hand out to forestall Conner, and then he launches into Conner's body, pushing him back onto a barrel. Conner brings his knee up into Corvus' midriff, eliciting a cry of pain.

No, Conner! You don't know who he is.

Conner spins Corvus round so he is now bent backwards over the barrel and sends three percussive right fists into the bloodying face of his opponent. Corvus weekly puts his hands up as the fists stop. Conner lets Corvus drop, sliding between two barrels.

I know who he is.

Angus arrives flanked by two of Mab's guards.

Conner! What is this? He's a magus. You can't do this.

Angus, he was provoked. He didn't know.

I knew. But no man does that ta me.

You've done it this time.

ANGUS (To the guards)
Lock him away. Diedre will need to be informed.

Corvus stirs on the ground and starts to drag himself to his feet. Angus stoops to help him as the guards march Conner away.

Master Corvus, what were you thinking? It's not my place to judge but this isn't behaviour becoming of a magus, sir.

CORVUS (Wincing)
Maybe not, but experience tells me I need a shield grog more 'an most. And I think I jus' found 'im.

There is a >whumph< sound as Diedre appears from wherever she had been.

Corvus, in his search for lost and forgotten secrets, had seen many things that have made men made of sterner stuff than he void their bowels and run home to their mothers. Which is exactly what he wanted to do now. Diedre looked absolutely furious, and quite ready to dish out some punishment en masse. So evident was this, she was literally burning, her rage manifest in a mantle of flame that surrounded her.

Eventually, she calms down, becoming much less terrifying, and instead looking very tired. Angus explains what has happened as best he can, along with the other custos present, hiding behind Angus. Their explanation is interrupted by commentary from Diedre, at which she only can shake her head.

"Release him," she says, pointing to Fae custos and Conner. "He needs to get back to work. Angus, you will decide his punishment... later." she tries to make it sound omnious. "You," she says, fixing Corvus with a gimlet stare, "Come with me." With that, she begins walking. A good thirty paces pass before she speaks again. "You are aware that right now, I am the sole authority in this covenant, and I can completely and arbitrarily decide any punishment you should get. The heads of your clan and sept recommended you to me, as one who finds secrets thought long lost. I realize with that inquisitiveness, often comes trouble."

"I do not need anymore trouble with the Turb than I already have. Yes, we have our collection of Loyal Stalwarts, and the local families, many who have been in the service of this covenant for generations, and proud of it." She sighs. "This business with the english has been calling them away, year by year. Last year, I found myself have to pay for gallowglass* for the one expedition we did mount before things descended into Gehenna in a handbasket."

"So what have you to say in your defence?"

Defence, lady Diedre? I've no defence at all. I'm entirely at the mercy of whim, which I find is a'ways three steps ahead o' me conscience. No, it's true. Ah, ye look shocked, and I'll be honest, when I came to the realisation mesel' it took some gettin' used to. I cannot even claim to be drunk.

Corvus dabs at his split lip

But I rarely do things with no good reason. Well, I say "rarely", more seldom. Well, again, I say "seldom". No, I need a grog with a little fire in 'im. A little temper, eh? And what point's a man like that making barrels? Ya say ya want less trouble? From what I hear o' the man, he'll be in less trouble if ya give 'im to me.

Diedre seems to consider his words, though the scowl hasn't yet left her face. But Corvus brightens up and starts circing Diedre as he talks

Now, if you'd spare 'im a floggin', which I agree would normally be a fair punishment for striking one as esteemed as I, then his punishment can be to work for me. And Angus can find another man to heft barrels around. There's a score or more kids here who need an honest job and they'll do it gratefully and they won't be looking for the next fight to mek 'em feel sumtin'.

Corvus again comes to rest in front of Diedre

Or look at it this way, he'll keep me honest. He'll be a constant reminder ta me of your displeasure should I cross the line again. And I'll keep him out a the wrong kind a trouble by getting him inta the right kind a trouble.

But ya knew all that anyway. I can see I can learn a lot from ya, Dierde. What would you do, eh? Send a man with fight in 'is blood back to the workshop? Or use that fight and fire? Would ya flog the man? And who'd ya be punishin'? Him or me? No, I think ya've heard ma words, though you may not like ma ways.

Corvus cracks a broad smile, then winces as his lip pulls apart

Corvus comes to the realization that Diedre is very angry; Flames have begun to lick around the Flambeau's slight figure. A cry from the guard at the gate forces her to clamp down on her temper. "You 2, make sure he stays here." Both of the guardsmen nod. With that, DIedre goes and greets the newcomers at the gate, and shortly returns. In order to look Corvus in the eye to speak to him, she has to levitate nearly a foot off the ground.

"Flogging you or him would not be for either your benefit or his. It would be to establish in the minds of others that there are consequences for actions. Now, thanks to your deep lack of maturity and consideration for the work of others, WE have work to do that -- up until just a moment ago -- didn't need to be done."

Now Dierdre begins to pace in a circle around Corvus, impressive enough that she's doing it while maintaining a spell, and talking.

"Why do we need to redo it? Because before your stupid little act, your elders and I had established a high degree of loyalty with the turb and the rest of the covenfolk by letting them know, by both word and deed, that they are not playthings for the magi. That they are people and will be treated well when they behave properly and that they will be punished in proportion to any crime they commit. You, on a WHIM," Dierdre points to a small plant which changes to ash immediately, "have demonstrated that they ARE playthings to at least yourself and, thanks to the effects of the Gift and that they are already suspicious of your fellow new arrivals, have confirmed in thier minds at least that the old rules may not apply."

Dierdre starts looking a little tired. "Understand me, Corvus. Today you may have found the sheildman you desire, if he decides to stay after the punishment that Angus metes out. But independent of his decision, you no longer have my respect. I had invited you here, to join as a member in good standing. Your membership is now probationary, and you will be assigned tasks and alloted resources to work with, not choose them, for the next year."

"And," Dierdre says with a very hard look, "you will have to work very hard and demonstrate consistent good judgement in order to get in my good graces. This will not be at all easy."

"Oh, and as a final note," she says with very fine elocution, "grogs or covenfolk striking a magus of the covenant is punishable by death. I'll let your man know that I'm being particularly merciful today. For your information, I've been in correspondence with Archmagus Philipus Niger in the Rhine Tribunal -- one of the premier Perdo specialists in the Order -- for quite some time, and he's extended some lab texts for my use that will let me mete out that particular punishment. He's frighteningly creative."

"Now grow up and get out of my sight until sundown. And since my word is still law around here, I mean it." She stands, feet apart and arms folded, right in front of Corvus, waiting.


Ah, well. I see your point. It's entirely my fault. I should have listened more to the rumours before I came here.

But so you know, I mean you no disrespect, you or your covenant's ways, but if it'll save a man's skin, for I think ya punishment o'him will do more harm to morale than my foolery, I'll stand his place and tek his punishment as ma own, spells or flogging or whatever ya have in mind. Ya have ma offer to mek it right. And now I'll leave ya.

Corvus leaves and when out of sight, lets out a hefty sigh. Then chuckles to himself, partly through nerves and partly through the thrill if it all. Then, a mask descends on him and his form shifts and he takes off to find out where Conner is being held.

[Elsewhere, Close By]

Seamus had had a busy morning. First, that business with the new Magus, Corvus, and Connor. It had taken 3 men to hold Connor until he calmed down. Then, there had been morning drill, where at least 2 groups of custos participated in mock melee, with all the bumps and bruises that entailed. Then, finally, there was this business for his father,something he often got saddled with, mainly because he was a lettered man; His father could write something down for him, and he could read it, and do what his father wanted him to do.

As in this case, to go to the Smith's Place, and put an order in for some new tools. He reaches the smithy, and the din of hammer hitting iron sounds clearly in the early afternoon.

"Master Colin!" he yells into the forge, hoping to be heard, and gain the Smith's attention.

"I am here," he says, from behind Seamus, causing Seamus to start, and turn around. "My son is working on a practice piece at the moment. What can I do for you?"

"Well, my Father has given me a shopping list, for new tools...."

Conner works at digging a trench amid stench and flies. As he does so a crow flutters from the air and lands on the nearby handcart, apparently unnoticed.

Enjoying dis are ye?


And you'll not face me as a man den, eh?

Conner stops his sluicing and jams his shovel into the foetid ground, turning to face the crow.

So why me, eh? Why, of all the men ye could a chose, why choose to screw wi' ma day? I've done nuttin' to ye. I've said nuttin' to ye. I'd barely seen ye before dis morning.

The crow cocks its head and watches on from its perch on the cart, blinking in the sun.

I worked hard to make a home here. Hard! And ye? What is dis place to ye?

Conner shrugs, waving his hand and dismissing the crow, and picks up his shovel again. He grumbles beneath his breath and pulls his handkerchief back over his mouth and then digs another load of soil.

Aye, I'm a fightin' man.

Conner throws the shovel to the ground and grabs the cloth from his face.

But what business is dat a yours? I don' fight wit da men here. Dat's da rule. And dem as pays ma livin' don' say nuttin' so long as I keep ma trouble away from here. And now? Now dems as like yesel' know ma name and dey'll soon know the business a taday.

The crow blinks and stretches out a wing, almost apologetically.

I don' care about how ye want yesel to be seen by me, by the men, or by dem as runs dis place but I care. Men like me, what choice da we have? Nobody here wants trouble. Ya cause trouble and dere's more dan a constable or a bailiff to mete out yer end. So I'm safe. What if dey mek me leave? What if dey trow me out a dis place? I go and mek ma livin' somewhere else but what about when the trouble starts, eh?

Ca. Caaw.

The crow jumps from the post on the cart and alights on one of the long handles, higher up and closer to Conner.

Me ma, God rest 'er, always said I'd meet me end a the end of a rope. Dats why I'm here. And ye've teken it away. Ye've shown the village here what I am. If he'll strike a wizard, dey'll say, what'll he do to ye? Dat's what dey'll say. And I'll nay be trusted. Like I'm an animal. And aye, I see the humour in it. Me, an animal, talkin' to a man who really is an animal.

Conner turns and sits, his back against the cartwheel.

It's just... I try to keep it in and ye, well ye show it at every turn. Here I am, afeared a letting meself go and ye can flit beneath shape and unnatural shape as the mood teks ye. How can a man do that and not go mad? Where, do ye find it in yesel to be both?

See, truth is, I am a fightin' man. Dat's what I am. Dat's who I am. But dere's plenty a dem around, so what meks me more dan dat? I don't know but I do know dat da guards and da watch here'll nay have me. You're a cooper, dey say. Mek ya barrels and be done wit. Dey can't trust me. But da men I work wit? Dey don't trust me either. Dey don't say it, but they tink it, yer a fightin' man, Conner Mac Conner, ya don't belong here wit us.

So, what am I? One ting or another? Man or beast?

Conner stands and turns to face his confidante. Beyond the crow he spots a black-haired lithe figure, stripped to the waist, marching over from the village. The crow, hops from his perch and with a bounce takes to the air, leaving Conner and the newly arrived Corvus.

Conner Mac Conner. Dierdre said I'd find you here. If ye have another shovel, I'll pitch in and help. We've much to discuss, you and I.

"And you've already discussed the matter with the other smith?" Colin waits for the affirmative and then continues. "Good. He's a good one and was here first so deserves frist crack for a while."

Colin extends his hand indicating the list. Seamus gives it to him and he reads it over. "Seamus, is it? Seamus, I can certainly do this work, but I never commit until I know what the the expectations really are. What deadline are we looking at, here?"

{ooc: list please by e-mail}


Colin looks around the new smithy. Everything is in order, but there is certainly a paucity of raw materials.

"Hmm, these I can do in relatively short order, but will take what good strap stock I brought with me." He writes a series of notes on the list. "Please return this list to Angus and let him know that I would like to discuss buying raw material and what arrangements he has already made."

Colin then walks over to his son and gently lays a hand on a shoulder that will undoubtedly get very muscular indeed. "Son," he says quietly, "I know you are strong, but you need to let the hammer do more of the work." He proceeds to make an almost imperceptable adjustment to how the hammer in his son's hand and silently indicates that he should continue.

The boy strikes one blow and even Seamus picks up a slight change in tone from the ringing from the anvil. The boy looks up in surprise to his father and with renewed energy continues to work. Colin goes back to leaning against the post, arms folded, and focusses on Important Things.